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SJSD outlines pandemic plan in light of coronavirus developments

District leaders say the plan has been in place for a decade and involves deep cleaning buildings and school buses.

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(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The St. Joseph School District is responding to the coronavirus. On Thursday, the superintendent shared plans the district has in place should a pandemic such as Covid-19 strikes St. Joseph.

"The biggest thing for us is to try to be proactive," Dr. Doug Van Zyl, superintendent said. "There’s a plan for the cleaning of our buildings and school busses."

The district sent a message to parents Wednesday about their response plan and while they’ve addressed buildings and busses, district leaders said there are no plans regarding student meals.

About 70% of students in the district qualify for free and reduced lunches. For those who rely heavily on those meals, district leaders said it could be a challenge to maintain that service should they have to close.

"It's awfully hard to say that you’re going to bring hundreds of students together to be able to provide meals for them," Van Zyl said. "Our goal is to take care of our families and our students. We don’t want to put them at risk." 

Maria Burnham, the health services coordinator for the district, said she’s been in close contact with the health department on the latest COVID-19 developments.

With spring break just around the corner, Burnham said it will give the district time to deep clean. During that time she stressed that parents should talk to their kids about the benefits of proper handwashing.

"Talk to them about taking care of their own health and make sure they wash their hands," she said. "It’s not only about protecting yourself but it's about protecting those around you."

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Dangerous heat will move into the area today with highs reaching the upper 90s to triple digits. Heat index values will likely be between 100-106. Use caution when spending time outside this afternoon. Hot and humid conditions will continue on Friday with highs back in the upper 90s and lower 100s with heat index values reaching triple digits. A cold front will move through the area Friday afternoon into the evening bringing the chance for a few showers and thunderstorms. Scattered rain chances will continue through the weekend with highs in the lower 90s. Highs in the 80s will return for the beginning of next week.
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